How to put Heart and Authenticity into your Brand
Branding is so much more than just a logo and a website, and branding strategist Bonnie Bakhtiari works hard to help her clients understand that, and dive deep into the heart of why they love what they do. She owns B is for Bonnie Design, and is an expert in not only how to put together a beautiful, cohesive brand, but also in how to create a brand that makes a lasting impact on its audience, and uses its core values to attract the right clients. In this episode, Bonnie is giving us her insight and tips on why putting your heart into your brand is so important and how to do just that.
HOW DID SHE GET HERE?
Bonnie admits that she was not the girl in college that saw herself owning a business, and she always thought she would take a more traditional route. In college she studied journalism and had a focus on print media, which meant she took a lot of design classes as a part of that. It was in those design classes that she fell in love with how good design paired with strong storytelling can help you communicate so effectively and efficiently. She fell into the branding industry by opening a small Etsy shop and a quick website, and in 2012, B is for Bonnie Design was born by selling editable wedding invitations and offering a few small branding packages. She found that she had a passion for branding, and her client list continued to grow. Now she gets to help clients everyday go through a branding journey to get to the heart and authenticity of their brand and their story.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO HAVE A COHESIVE BRAND?
Branding is so much more than just the logo that you have, the fonts on your website, or the pretty images that we spend hours drooling over on Pinterest. It’s a truly multifaceted concept and there are three facets to that. The first is experiential, meaning how you create a brand experience and invite your customers and clients into that experience. Think about the way they’re physically engaging with you in that space. The second is visual, which includes everything we think of when we think of branding - the logo, the fonts, the colors, and the images. Lastly, it’s also verbal, meaning the way you communicate with people through your messaging, your social media and blog, and even your face-to-face conversation with your clients. When you think carefully about each facet, you create a lot of room for possibility.
"Branding is where your story and your ideal client’s story overlap."
It’s important to have a cohesive brand because you want to be inviting your clients and customers into a cohesive and trustworthy space. When they come across your work, whether it’s online or in person or through a friend telling them about you, we want it to be clear that you’re always representing the same story and the same facets, and for it to be incredibly clear on who you are, what you do, and what value you can add to their life. Keep your head down and focus more on what’s in you and less on what other people are doing.
HOW CAN YOU PUT MORE OF YOURSELF AND YOUR HEART INTO YOUR BRAND?
You can be building a brand that’s all about you or building a brand that’s all about your ideal client, but that sweet spot is going to be where your stories and values overlap. So in order to put more of yourself and more of your heart into your brand, you have to get in touch with the heart behind your work - why you do the work that you do. That helps you get in touch with the origin story of your brand and how you decided to dive into this journey. A lot of the time in this deep dive, we find that there are values that are associated with that origin that you can now lean on as your core values to build a heartfelt and honest brand.
If you’re building a brand that’s built around heart and values and why you do the work that you do, then you’re actually going to be making very intentional choices, not just about the logo you use and what services or products you offer, but also about the way that you want to impact your clients and serve them through the work that you do. If you can lean on those core elements, then you’re building something that has longevity already built into the framework.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR PUTTING HEART INTO YOUR BRAND AND HOW MUCH DO WE NEED TO PUT OUT THERE?
What you share with your audience is up to you, so you have to do what feels comfortable. Don’t let people who haven’t earned a trusted space in your life into the deepest parts of your heart. How much or how little you share in your brand is going to be different for everyone person, but you have to do what you’re comfortable with and ask yourself if it makes sense to share. Is this content and message going to resonate with your audience in a way that aligns with your brand and its core values?
Start at a broader level and then start to peel back the layers. Start with the story of your business and how you got started, and then start to focus on the why behind your work, the vision for your brand, and the impact that you hope to leave on the world through the work that you’ve done. Think about the mission that you want to achieve as you start to dive a little deeper into each of those layers. Look for patterns that emerge to find the clear set of values that come into play.
HOW CAN WE STAY ON TREND AND PUT HEART INTO OUR BRAND? ARE TRENDS IMPORTANT?
Don’t worry about keeping up with fads (whatever is trending on Pinterest). If you want to focus on trends that will help you build a community and impact your audience, that’s fine, but you mainly need to focus on building a brand that has your personality and authenticity represented and speaks to your ideal clients. So it really depends on who your ideal clients are. If they’re focused on trends and what’s current at the moment, than you may need to stay a little more up-to-date on trends than some other brands would.
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